Fire Season (Star Kingdom)
by David Weber and Jane Lindskold
Cover Artist: Daniel Dos Santos
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451638400
Date: 02 October 2012 List Price $18.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Sphinx has long seasons, and the long dry fire season is here. The indigenous creatures can sense the approach and begin to shift in reaction. The treecats are learning more about the new planet inhabitants--humans. Lionheart, who is known as Climbs Quickly by his people, is learning and sharing. He trusts his human, Death Fang's Bane, absolutely. They are also learning to communicate, even if it isn't telepathically like treecats normally communicate.
A few years have passed since Stephanie Harrington bonded with the treecat Lionheart. She has a special classification with the Sphinxian Forest Service. Everything is going well as her birthday approaches. Almost everything, one of the local queen bees, Trudy Franchitti, has it out for Stephanie. For the first time, she will see a male as something other than as a friend.
The object of her interest is Anders Whittaker. Anders is very interested in treecats. In fact his interest and his father's interest in the same subject bring them to Sphinx. Although he means no harm, Bradford Whittaker is very focused on learning what he wants, how he wants, and when he wants. His singular focus will endanger his research and his family, but will also lead to another major discovery.
The title alone foreshadows the big event of this story. A major fire threatens property, humans, and treecats. The connections begin when Lionheart hears a call for help from a trapped treecat. Stephanie and friends, both old and new, will fight fire and create bonds with each other.
This adventure is set in the Honorverse. It is a prequel to the Honor Harrington series. Stephanie Harrington is an ancestor of Honor and the first human to bond with a treecat. Hinted at in Honor's stories, this series tells how the Harrington's become one of the leading families on Sphinx.
There have been a large number of novels and stories published in the Honorverse. A Beautiful Friendship and its sequel Fire Season are young adult novels and focused on the actions of teenage protagonists. Fire Season has a subplot dealing with first infatuation and the interplay of teenage girls. Stephanie is not your typical teenage girl; her genetic heritage has given her several innate advantages for living on a newly settled high gravity world. But she still deals with the emotional turmoil that is common to teens. This is something to which both teens and adults can relate.
Fans of the Honorverse will find another good story here. As the second book in a series, it isn't the preferred starting point. This young adult series is an entry point to the Honorverse. Both novels can be enjoyed without any prior knowledge from the later Honor Harrington adventures. Stephanie is a strong female character that does not feel the need to denigrate those around her. She is not perfect and does make mistakes.
I have enjoyed both of the Star Kingdom novels that follow Stephanie and Climbs Quickly. Parents who have enjoyed reading David Weber, can feel safe sharing this series with their children. This is a companion tale, although set on futuristic world, similar to Jim Kjelgaard's Big Red series with a boy befriending an Irish setter. The bond reminds me a bit of Wilson Rawl's Where the Red Fern Grows, without the tragic ending.